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Should Virginia's General Assembly Expand Medicaid?

Posted by Chip Block on April 27, 2018 3:10 PM EDT
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In another focused op-ed piece in the "Other Views" column of The Virginian-Pilot, several CEO's of Virginia's largest healthcare providers make a case.....

...for expanding Medicaid.  Some readers may think that the opinion piece has an obvious tone of bias due to the three authors' organizations' interests in funding for healthcare for the indigent and lower-income Virginians.  On the other hand, the key points in the op-ed piece titled "State Senate should expand Medicaid" is one based on hard-to-refute facts and logic.

This excellent piece of formal written opinion was published on Wednesday, April 25th in The Virginian-Pilot and its authors are well-known business leaders*, their organizations large and effective healthcare providers and significant employers in each of the regions that they do business in.  Early on in the op-ed piece, the authors ask the reflective question, "what would Medicaid expansion mean if the Senate, House and Gov. Ralph Northam found a compromise solution during the special General Assembly session to finalize the state budget?"

The following passages drill the point home-not as a philosophical argument or one based on political ideology.  But an argument based on sound economic and fact-based logic.

And I quote:

"The cost of uncompensated care in initially absorbed by a health care provider, such as a hospital or doctor's office.  But it ultimately gets passed on to other people through higher insurance rates, to employers who provide insurance for their employees and to workers who see their premiums increase."

"Funding health care is not just the work of government programs, however.  Hospitals and healthcare systems need to partner with patients to take responsibility for lowering costs.  With that in mind, we've been approaching care in new ways."

"Additional Medicaid dollars are really just the next piece in a much larger puzzle.  Hospitals such as our will continue to provide care to those who need it in emergencies, but increasingly we've shifted to a model of care that offers support to people who might be a risk of needing acute care.  if we're able to help them before they become acutely ill, they have a much better chance at a fulfilling life, and the cost to our health care system and the community is much lower.  In other words, we're focusing on the complex work of keeping chronically ill patients from unnecessary hospitalizations."

The reason I particularly like this excerpt is that it focuses on the types of changes that will increase population health, reducing the preventable load on the health care system and enabling lower costs through better accountability for those who are receiving the FREE government health insurance assistance. The other element of this statement that is positive from my vantage point, is that the focus is also on the part of the population which represents the highest and more frequently recurring health care costs, and that is hospitalization of the chronically ill.  

There is still much detail to ferret out from the statement these three CEOs are making in this op-ed piece.  But at a high level, this sounds like the kind of reasoning for legislation that would tell me and other Virginian taxpayers that maybe, just maybe we may see an "ROH" (return on health) from such an investment at this time in the state's history.

*The three authors of this Other Views article are Nancy Howell Agee-president and chief executive officer of Carilion Clinic; Dr. J. Stephen Jones-chief executive officer of Inova and Howard P. Kern president and chief executive officer of Sentara Healthcare.

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